Category Archives: Mindfulness

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2016 The Wrap-up! Mindfully Wrapping Up this Year

2016…

Wow, did that go at lightening speed.

I know we all say that, but this year especially flew by.

One thing I did do this year was really pay attention, and tried to be present in my actions. I also did a lot of inner work this year with my intentions and Sankalpa. I think I did more than ever, based on the limited personal time I get with my toddlers and business. I was able to focus more on what was important.

Changes I saw:

  • PATIENCE-my word of the year, has improved greatly
  • Being in the moment, not worrying about the near future
  • Staying on top of my daily task list
  • Knowing what is important and not giving into selfish acts and mindlessness
  • Being a kinder presence in my own my to myself and others, this is a top priority for 2017.

This year I was able to make a huge business decision to expand my yoga studio’s space. A lot of people say it must be crazy and stressful. Actually, 5 years ago, it was when I first opened. This time around, I am staying patient and calm and trying not to be anxious about things.

My biggest goal is balance my work time with home time, and so forth, around a soon busy moving and opening schedule. Each day I start with a 5 top task list and work on those first, then move onto what ever is next.

I have changed my perspective on life a bit. I chose this year to release control, to embrace being OK and self-acceptance, and to really work the 4 agreements: never make assumptions, don’t take it personally, always do your best and be impeccable with your word. (Check out Don Migual Ruiz’s book)

I take self-responsibility to heart for how I live and think in my life, but also now allow that to be the case with others. My biggest sense of “dis-ease” in my life was feeling responsible for everyone and everything, and making sure everyone thought well of me.

Well, that is not my choice to make. Who wants to carry that responsibility around with them of worrying about what others think and do for their own self-care? It helped to set better boundaries for myself and I learned how to say no, with kindness, but with a healthy boundary for myself.

Choosing to spend a lot more time connecting with my little ones was the best choice I made. This summer, I decided more beach days, more outside time, more park time was necessary, or I would wind up just sitting at my desk responding to emails all day. I did a lot to move around my work schedule to try to create more space for my family. It did not hurt my business numbers, and only helped me be a better mother and wife.

What I noticed from all these little tid bits I share? I am calmer, kinder, have more patience, and work more words of kindness. I don’t have as much to complain about. The complaint cycle really only happens when I am with people who complain, but I catch myself and say,  “I think I will just listen with compassion and not join in on that cycle.” I feel better for it, and less weighed down.

Lastly, I really improved my own sacred ritual times. I really had to down size that part of my life when I had infants. This year I was able to find my quiet time at the early hours of morning, or sometimes late at night, and implement my asana practice, meditation, and exercise. It is very important to me to stay strong the older I get. I really do not like feeling unhealthy in my body. I hope to carry this into 2017 even stronger.

Now wrap up your year, sit and make yourself 2 lists if you like, one for closing out your 2016 year, and one for your intentions and hopes for 2017. Keep the list concise and stick with it. Each week, re-visit it, and record your thoughts. The power of intention is the strongest with repetition.

Here is a snippet of my 2017 list:

  • Word of the year: KINDNESS
  • Intentions stem from conscious communication of love, compassion and kindness
  • Body love time with moving prayer, strong asana practice, light weight training and swimming, and more outside movement time.
  • Continue strength of family and devotional family time
  • Create a community awareness in my business and implement some programs to benefit all walks of life
  • Continue to expand my studies in the fields of herbs and aromatherapy
  • Keep my thoughts mindful and aware as much as possible

A Moment to Reflect

lantern on windowsill

Ask yourself, what did I learn, let go of, and accomplish in 2016?

What do I want my main theme or word of the year for 2017 to be? (Remember, no negative words, this is not a resolution)

Who will support me on my path of inner growth and who can I let go of?

What is my biggest dream of all and what can I start to do this coming year to invoke that dream in my life?

Good luck and happy New Year to you and yours. Enjoy the beauty of the season wherever you are.

 

 

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How I called my Baby In: A special guest feature on the power of yoga and fertility.

A note from Jennifer:

When I met Kira, she was taking my morning yoga classes, and I thought she was bright, sweet and really excited about yoga. She had good questions and was curious about what she could do beyond medical intervention for increasing her chances of pregnancy. I told her about the many successes I had with female clients through my Inner Wisdom Sessions. She accepted and set up a session with me. It was in a session that I told her to call her baby in. Fertility & Yoga for Fertility is so much about creating a space for our babies in our physical bodies, our minds and our emotions. During that time, she enrolled to do the Inner Wisdom training, and became pregnant during her training. It was a remarkable time to see the liberation and stress lifted off her shoulders. Here is Kira’s story, I hope you will pass this along to anyone you might know that can benefit from her story and fertility yoga practice. 

Kira’s Story

kira prego

“When are you going to have a baby?”

I used to dread that question. How I would react was entirely based on where I was emotionally that day. I may have gotten enraged. I may have crumbled into tears or I may have gotten on my soapbox and given that person a dissertation on why that question is so hurtful to ask someone that is struggling with infertility.

This journey with infertility has been an emotional roller coaster.

It has been both physically and emotionally the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with in my entire 33 years. It also changed my life forever and not for the reasons you are thinking.
My journey started in 2012. I got married in July. I had gone off of the pill a few months prior to our wedding. Being 29, almost 30, Justin and I wanted to start a family fairly quickly. We came home from our honeymoon and I got my period. There was definitely a little twinge of sadness but I told myself that we would full on try next month and it would happen soon. I just knew it.
Well, next month came and went, then the next and the next and the next. Soon it had been half a year and the process was starting to affect me. I kept our struggle to myself mostly. When people would ask “When are you going to have a baby?” I would usually lie and say we weren’t ready yet or we wanted to enjoy each other as husband and wife for a little while.

I had a really good script when people asked me, but inside I would fall to pieces.

At the beginning of 2013 I told myself that I was starting the year fresh with no baggage from the past 6 months. I was going to lighten my stress, take care of my body and mind. I had read so much about yoga and how yoga could help with stress relief, and I so badly needed that. My life was one big ball of stress. My family was challenging, work was challenging and I was struggling to keep it together amidst the stress of disappointment every single month.

I, like so many people, was so intimidated to go to a yoga class. My ego had told me I was too fat, not strong enough, not flexible enough, over all not good enough. So I booked a private yoga lesson. It was ok. Just ok. The teacher gave me some basic stretches to help with the tension in my shoulders and hamstrings but I left feeling the same way I walked in. I got in the car and just fell to tears. I was discouraged. I thought that my stress was too big for yoga to help. I drove home barely being able to see through the tears. Next month came, then the next month, then the next month, then the next and still no baby.

It was now the end of April 2013 and the weather was breaking. For whatever reason I was drawn back to yoga. In my mind though, it wasn’t for stress relief. It was because the weather was getting warmer and I wanted to make my body look a little better for the coming months of warm weather. I went back to Awaken Yoga Studio, the same studio that I had taken the private lesson and took a Hatha yoga class. Throughout class I would get very emotional at random times, in random poses. I just brushed it off as insecurity.

The following week I took a Hatha class taught by Jennifer Langsdale and the same thing happened emotions would come up at various times during class. After class I stayed after to ask her what was happening and if it was normal. Jenn kind of chuckled and told me that it was a good thing that I was so in tune with my body. She gave me a basic education about how certain asanas, a.k.a poses, could stimulate energy centers in the body and cause emotions to arise. As the tears were welling up I quickly said thank you and ran out to my car to cry. From that moment on I was hooked. I was becoming a yogini, but still no baby.

In June, Justin and I decided to go and talk to a fertility specialist just to see what he had to say. It had been a year of trying, and I was so ready for this doctor to fix me. We went to the appointment. He assured us that we were young and really hadn’t been trying that long compared to many of his other patients. I know he was trying to comfort me but I did not find comfort in those words. He ordered and internal ultra sound, blood work and a Hysterosalpingogram also called HSG test and sperm analysis for Justin.

The results were back a few days later and the nurse practitioner called to schedule a time when we could come in and discuss a plan moving forward. So we went. She told us that I would be very fertile this month because of the HSG test and my ultrasound and blood work looked great. She went over Justin’s sperm analysis and most of it looked good with the exception of the Morphology which is the percentage of sperm that have a “normal” shape. She assured us that this wouldn’t prevent us from getting pregnant it would just make it a little more difficult. They decided to put me on a fertility drug to create the optimum ovulation scenario so that the environment would be perfect for the sperm. We left scared but optimistic. Then next month came, then the next month, then the next and still no baby.

Late 2013, and we were back in the fertility center with the nurse practitioner’s office cultivating another plan. This time the plan is to switch fertility medications, have me come in day 12 of my cycle for an internal ultrasound to check my ovulation, and then if the time is right, give myself an injection to control the egg and get it to ovulate. Then we would go in for Intrauterine insemination or IUI which is when they insert a catheter and then inject the sperm directly through the cervix.

Sounds so romantic right?

They suggested we do this for up to 4 months assuming I will get pregnant sometime in that time frame. Month one….Month two…Month three…Month four….still no baby.

At this point yoga had become my sanity.

I needed it. My body craved it. It was truly the only way I could have handled all of that without losing it and having some sort of mental breakdown. I had begun to be more open about my struggles. Confiding in friends, clients and family I found that I wasn’t alone. So many of the people in my life began to share their experiences. I began to feel like I had a tribe, that I had support. It didn’t make each month easier but at least I had so many people to talk to that would just send me love and compassion.

My relationship with my husband was beginning to be affected by this stress. Sex was no longer intimacy it was just a means to an end. We knew when we had to do it and we did. There was no romance anymore. It was strictly business. We pulled away from each other for a little while and it took its toll. No one ever talks about this component to the infertility struggle. That is why I am including it. It is important to know that this is a normal yet difficult side effect of going through infertility trouble.

In early 2014 I had inquired about some healing arts at Awaken to help with our infertility struggle. I initially asked about Reiki. The teacher I was talking to said that Reiki was very healing but I should really consider Inner Wisdom Yoga Therapy with Jenn. Jennifer took me on a journey through my chakra system. My third visit was my sacral chakra or Svadhishthana chakra. This is our emotional space, our creative space and our space of fertility and new life. This session was powerful. It was completely closed off. All I saw and felt was black knots. It became emotional when my potential child came up and I could see her. Yes her, but I didn’t know how to call her in. It was spiritual and powerful and emotional.

I continued to do the self-work that was suggested in my sessions and continued my yoga practice. I practiced yoga several times a week. I used crystals and essential oils to help aid in healing my womb. I worked through years of emotional baggage that was not serving me and needed to be let go. I spent time meditating and working with mantras to help me accept what I couldn’t change and move on. I drank herbal tea that was specifically formulated to increase fertility. In this process I learned how to call my baby in. To do that I needed to heal from emotional trauma and learn coping skills to allow me to handle life’s stress. I learned so much about myself in that process. It was an invaluable learning time in my life. I am so grateful to have had it.

After my 4th IUI I was still not pregnant. I went back in to see the doctor. In an emotional appointment, he and I discussed a plan of two more months of IUI and then we would have the discussion about Invitro fertilization or IVF.

I left feeling defeated.

In March 2014 I began my training to become a Inner Wisdom practitioner and had my 6th and final IUI, which the doctor told us was going to be null and void basically because they had missed my ovulation completely.

The training was beyond emotionally taxing. I had to bare my soul to learn how to connect to all of my chakras as well as receiving numerous Inner Wisdom Sessions from my classmates. In my second weekend of classes I was particularly emotional. Jenn was guiding us through a healing energy meditation. She guided us to weave this healing energy through our chakras starting at our root and slowly moving up the body. When I reached my sacral chakra I saw this little gold bindu of light shining in that space. I didn’t really think much of it and dismissed it. I finished up the weekend of classes an emotional wreck crying over everything. Still no baby?

Easter Sunday, I was at the point in my cycle that an early pregnancy test should show results. I had taken so many of them I just expected it would be a no. When I looked down I saw a faint line where the pregnant line should be. I stood there stunned. I couldn’t believe it. Medically it was the least likely time for it to have happened. When the doctor told us we missed the window I just thought this month was a wash.

But it happened! It happened when it wasn’t medically likely. It happened when I was completely immersed in yoga and yoga therapy. I did the work. I opened my womb and I called my baby in. I had no idea I was doing it but I was. I called in my girl. I just knew it was a girl.

Justin and I were ecstatic! We were having a baby!!

I had a beautiful pregnancy and delivery. I have the sweetest baby girl that I could ever imagine. I am on this path to help other women that are having fertility problems and western medicine alone just isn’t enough. This is my calling.

I am on this planet to help women before, during and after pregnancy. I had to go through all of that pain and emotion to prepare me for my purpose and passion. I 100% believe that without yoga I would still be struggling to get pregnant and suffering through more painful medical procedures. Yoga saved me. Yoga enlightened me. Yoga showed me my purpose. Yoga showed me my passion. I am eternally grateful.

Kira is now a Certified Inner Wisdom Practitioner and Hatha Yoga Teacher at Awaken Yoga in Mentor, Ohio. She lives near the studio with her wonderful husband and adorable daughter, Lila.

Click here for Jennifer and Kira’s Fertility Yoga Practice

miso 2

Morning Miso, My Favorite Mindful Breakfast

Soup for breakfast? It is one of my favorites. Every since going to Kripalu and seeing two kinds of soup served for breakfast every morning: Miso and whatever leftover vegetables they had for a vegetable soup, I realized this is the best way for me to start my day. I feel light, refreshed, and nourished. I sometimes eat it with a side of whole grain toast with vegan butter on it if I need a little more oomph or I put noodles in my soup.

Food is meant to be soothing to your gut. This soup soothes me, and clears my mind. Food is medicine, and miso is said to be great for our health and gut. Think of your gut as your little brain of the body, and that might help you to make better food decisions.

Here are some benefits of miso, taken from The Magic of Miso, by Hiro Watanabe Ph.d

MISO BENEFITS

Many studies have been done on miso, some on humans and some on animals. These studies are showing the following benefits of miso2:

  • Reduces risks of cancer including breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer and colon cancer.
  • Protection from radiation
  • Immune strengthening
  • Antiviral — miso is very alkalizing and strengthening to the immune system helping to combat a viral infection.
  • Prevents aging – high in antioxidants, miso protects from free radicals that cause signs of aging.
  • Helps maintain nutritional balance – full of nutrients, beneficial bacteria and enzymes, miso provides: protein, vitamin B12, vitamin B2, vitamin E, vitamin K, tryptophan, choline, dietary fiber, linoleic acid and lecithin.
  • Helps preserve beautiful skin – miso contains linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid that helps your skin stay soft and free of pigments.
  • Helps reduce menopausal complaints – the isoflavones in miso have been shown to reduce hot flashes.

RECIPE

This soup takes me less than 10 mins to make, and you can use leftover tofu, rice, cooked veggies to add to the base, but here is the essentials:

6 cups of purified water

2 carrots sliced into coins

1-2 stalks of celery sliced

a large pinch of wakame seaweed (packed with micro-nutrients & iodine and makes the soup taste great!)

2-3 generous tablespoons of yellow miso

Put the veggies and seaweed into a medium sized pot. Add the water slowly. Cook on low for about an hour, this is great for yoga time. Take the simmering soup off the heat, let it rest for a few minutes and add your miso in with a strainer of some kind, just swirling it through the water until dissolved. Do not add your miso to boiling soup, it kills the good stuff in it. Read up on the different types of miso, organic is really important when choosing too.

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At this point you can eat it like it is, or add in a shake of shoyu, edamame and soba noodles. This morning I happened to have leftover noodles and edamame and it was delicious to just add it in and let the hot soup warm it up. I also have used diakon, cabbage, broccolini in with the veggie mix above. Or leftover cooked short grain brown rice and a 1/2 cup of tofu cut in cubes.  Watercress and kale make nice additions in the winter and early spring. Play around with what you like. Did I mention my kids love this soup? My toddlers will eat 2-3 bowls of it sometimes in one sitting, even at breakfast.

I eat this soup usually for breakfast and lunch when I make it, since it makes just about enough for 3-4 servings and I prefer to eat it fresh. I will alternate soup 2-3 times a week, miso or diakon, and sometimes just toast or oatmeal. I love eggs, but I found that they are a bit too heavy for me in the morning, I prefer eggs at lunch if I am going to eat them. I found this all out by really listening to my body and what it needs to eat.

A few easy things to do for the mental piece of mindful eating:

  • chew slowly and savor your food
  • put the fork down and notice if you are full
  • wait to go for seconds
  • notice how you feel after a meal, are you too full? tired? bloated? gassy?
  • if you notice you are anything other than light, content, revitalized then you might want to consider making some changes

A great place to start is my favorite cookbook, The Self-Healing Cookbook by Kristina Turner. She really helps you understand the moods of food in a easy way. Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Diet also takes this into perspective.

Focus

FOCUS: Find Your 5 Minute Bliss

Where have I been for that last month? Trying to FOCUS!

I feel like I have no time and I even am taking a mini-sabbatical from teaching my evening yoga classes to tie up some loose ends in my personal and work life. I realized there are not enough hours, arms, legs, and me’s to make it through the day. So, I told myself to rest when I can, and FOCUS.

I threw my back out a bit after just getting over a long knee injury. Why is this happening, I ask myself? Well, I am not focused on any one thing. I notice at times I don’t even know what my kids are saying to me. I was way behind on my emails until this evening, behind on certain tasks, so I made my priority list and just started checking it off. My back was telling me to FOCUS.

I have been sleeping too late (7AM) is too late for me, and going to bed a bit too late too. I miss rising early and getting my yoga time, quiet time or meditation time in, and I feel rotten about it. I am achy, tired and short tempered. I need to FOCUS on getting that time back.

It does not take long now for me to switch modes from whiny, cranky, & bitchy, but this last month especially, after being beaten down by two legal issues going on, (small ones to the “system”) but nonetheless, a big deal to myself, family, business and property, I realized my focus was all wrong. I was focusing in on all the “stuff” going on around me that I have minimal control over, putting too much energy into strange human behaviors that again I have no control over, and getting tired of being the victim.

So yet again, take the power back and try to shift gears and FOCUS on what is important. Improving processes, improving my feelings, being grateful for what I do have helps, but when you have so little time to spend with yourself and with your loved ones, you feel that disconnect/hard to plug in feeling. Especially when your career is standing upon energy, creativity, and health and delivering that to your clients. So, I am taking the time to FOCUS on breathing again, and finding space to do so.

My personal spaces, like my office, bedroom, and devotional space are a mess right now. They are being torn apart, and getting ready for a make-over, so that place of decision making is here and I am too tired and not in the right mind set to make those decisions. Instead of getting upset about it, I put that stuff to the side and FOCUS on what needs to be done so I can get there. It does not have to happen all at once that things get done, but it is helpful to make those lists and see where I want to spend my time.

I know this is a short and sweet post, but I wanted to reach out and give you my 5 minute tip list to how I focus in the middle of chaos.

5 Minutes of Bliss

  • get up and move, yoga or walk for 5 mins
  • lay in savasana in the sun if you can for 5 mins
  • breath for 5 mins with your eyes closed
  • boil some water for tea and while you wait do anything on this list
  • walk away from your desk and responsibility for 5 mins
  • joint rotations and a self-neck rub for 5 mins
  • cuddle a fur baby for 5 mins
  • cuddle a kid or partner for 5 mins
  • read an inspirational quote and close your eyes and ponder for 5 mins
  • Just practice 5 mins of positive thinking, the old law of attraction

Lastly, take some non-negotiable time for yourself, like a yoga class, massage, walk in the park, go to dinner, or make dinner with some good music on… whatever you need…it is non-negotiable, tell yourself that when you try to forgo it… Good luck!

Try my blog on Crow pose for ultimate pose focus!